Slumping Toronto FC looks to end nine-year winless streak in Kansas City

The Canadian Press
Slumping Toronto FC looks to end nine-year winless streak in Kansas City
Slumping Toronto FC looks to end nine-year winless streak in Kansas City

The sky may not be falling but it's looking very dark for Toronto FC.

A bad season got worse Wednesday in a 4-3 midweek loss at modest Minnesota. And it doesn't get any easier Saturday when Toronto (4-10-3) visits Sporting Kansas City, which is 6-1-2 at home.

The reigning MLS champions have never won at Children’s Mercy Park in seven tries (0-6-1) with their lone win in Kansas City coming in March 2009 at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

Kansas City (9-4-5) has not lost at home in four months — since its season opener March 4, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of New York City FC. And SKC is riding an eight-game undefeated streak against Toronto that dates back to the 2013 season.

The numbers are all bad for Toronto, which is playing its third game in six days.

Greg Vanney's team has lost three straight for the first time since September 2015, is winless in four (0-3-1), has just one victory in its last seven matches (1-4-2) and has picked up just eight points of the last 30 on offer (2-6-2).

"There's no possible way to sugar-coat anything so far in the league. It's just been bad, plain and simple," captain Michael Bradley said after the loss in Minnesota.

"But this is also a league where every year there's a team or two that start poorly and just when everybody thinks that they're done, find a way to regroup and put some results together. And before you know it, they've turned the tables a little bit. That's what we're going to try to do. Very simple."

At the halfway point last season, Toronto was 10-2-5 — 20 points ahead of its position this season. It's a measure of what a remarkable 2017 campaign TFC had that the team posted a very similar 10-3-4 mark in the second half.

Bradley estimates his team will have to win at a similar clip to climb back into the playoff picture this year.

"The reality is we've played 17 games, we have 15 points. We have another 17 games and these next 17 games we're going to need 30 points, 35 points — somewhere between 30 and 35 points."

Only Atlanta United (2.0) and FC Dallas (2.06) are averaging two or more points a game this season. The FiveThirtyEight website gives TFC a 26 per cent chance to make the playoffs.

At the midway point, Toronto has conceded 34 goals — just three less than it did all of last season.

Ten of those goals have come in the first 15 minutes of a game — a league worst.

"The frustrating part is just that in so many of these games, we've not even given ourselves a chance," said Bradley. "We start the game down 1-0, 2-0 on too many days. You have to be able to play from behind in moments but we've had to do it way too often this year."

Toronto's record when allowing the first goal is 0-9-1.

Kansas City, also playing its third game in a week, is coming off losses at Montreal (2-0) and Real Salt Lake (4-2). 

SKC will be without Hungarian international forward Daniel Salloi, its leading scorer with six goals, and midfielder Roger Espinoza, one of the team's designated players, both suspended after being sent off in Utah.



Saturday, Children’s Mercy Park

ROAD WOES: Toronto is 1-6-1 on the road this season.

HOW BAD IS IT: Only D.C. United (2-7-5) and San Jose (2-9-6) have fewer points than Toronto in the 23-team league. Atlanta and LAFC have scored more points on the road than Toronto has in total.

TFC DEBUT: Homegrown forward Ayo Akinola made his senior team debut off the bench on Wednesday in Minnesota. The 18-year-old from Brampton, Ont., became the 30th Toronto player to see action in the league this season. The club used 26 players last year. 


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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